6 questions to ask to define your target audience

April 29, 2014

It’s one of the most talked about recent TV commercials. Old Spice’s “Smellcome to Manhood” commercial  features a series of mournful mothers spying on their teenaged sons and lamenting that “Old Spice sprayed a man on my son, now he’s kissing all the women and his chores aren’t done.”

Some found the spot hilarious; others found it creepy. The real question, however, is will it sell Old Spice?

It’s been apparent for some time that the venerable brand has been trying to appeal to a younger demographic. But who exactly is this ad supposed to motivate to buy Old Spice? Teenaged boys? Do they really want to buy a product that promises to turn their mother into a maternal version of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? Or is it aimed at moms? What mother would want to be associated with the creepy women in this ad? And if she were genuinely concerned about her little boy becoming a man, why buy a product that boasts it will do just that?

At a time when a Super Bowl commercial can cost up to $4 million a spot, too many marketing teams sacrifice effectiveness at the altar of creativity. Distracted by the awards they envision themselves receiving, they forget the cardinal rule of marketing: Know thine audience. An ad may be creative; but it’s difficult to know if that ad will motivate your audience if you don’t have a good handle on who your audience is.

To help define your target audience, consider the following questions:

Who are your current clients?

Begin with your current client or customer base and develop specific client personas to represent the various audience segments. What characteristics do they share in common? Be specific: “All women” is far less effective as a target persona than “married working mothers over 40 with incomes of $75,000+ and who play tennis.”

Who isn’t using your product, but should be?

Are there audiences you feel are right for your product but who currently aren’t using it? (Old Spice, for example, seems to be working overtime to try to reach both younger males and their helicopter moms.)

What’s your geographic market?

Do you want to sell your organic homemade baby food at local farmer’s markets or are you looking to sell graphic t-shirts to a global audience online? Defining your market will help further define your audience.

What value do you offer?

What problem does your product or service solve for your target persona? Be careful not to confuse your reasons for selling your product with your customer’s reasons for wanting or needing it. They’re not always the same.

Mr. CleanHave you walked in their shoes?

Even well-established companies can lose touch with their audience’s perspective. Mr. Clean, for example, likely wished its Magic Eraser could have blotted out the memory of this Mothers Day ad that many customers perceived as sexist.

Where does your audience get its information?

Do your customers read newspapers or surf the net? Do they get their information from Twitter or The Wall Street Journal?

By defining your target audience and identifying the best media channels to reach them, you’ll be better positioned to craft messages that are both creative and effective.

To learn more about crafting messages that reach your target audience, contact michelle@rep-ink.com.



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